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Dishwasher Not Draining? 3 Problems and Solutions

Photo of an open Kenmore dishwasher in white modern kitchen

What should you do if your dishwasher won’t drain? Read the most common reasons a dishwasher won’t drain, including a clogged drain or kinked hose, and simple steps to fix this problem.

Dishwasher Not Draining?

Here are the top three reasons why:

1. The air gap is clogged.

2. The drain hose is clogged.

3. The drain hose is kinked.

If you’ve ever opened your dishwasher, only to find standing dirty water below the bottom rack, you’ve got a drainage problem. According to Sears Home Services expert Ron Meixner, there are three main reasons your dishwasher isn’t draining properly. Here’s what could be causing the issue and Meixner’s helpful solutions to fix it. Remember to consult your owner’s manual first for information on how to properly care for your dishwasher.

1. The air gap is clogged.

Solution: Some dishwashers use air gaps to prevent dirty water from backing up and contaminating your dishes. If one gets clogged, it can impact the appliance’s ability to drain. To tell if your dishwasher has an air gap, look for a small silver cylinder sitting by your faucet. If you have one, check to see if it’s clogged by removing the top cover and pulling straight up. Then, depending on the design, unscrew or release the tabs on the inner cap. Remove any debris or food buildup that may have accumulated and then reassemble the air gap.

2. The drain hose is clogged.

Solution: The drain hose is most likely to clog where it connects to the drain underneath the sink. Loosen the drain hose clamp and carefully disconnect it from the drain tee, air gap or garbage disposal drain port. Inspect and clean any debris or food buildup from the drain connector or the end of the drain hose. Then reconnect it and tighten the hose clamp.

3. The drain hose is kinked.

Solution: First check to see if the issue is where the hose connects to the drain underneath the sink, as kinks commonly happen here if the weight of the hose isn’t supported properly. Kinks also occur where the hose passes through the cabinet underneath the sink to connect the dishwasher to the drain, as well as if there’s excess drain hose coiled behind or underneath the dishwasher. Inspect the drain hose in these three areas to make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose. Remove the kinks and test dishwasher drain operation.

If you don’t feel comfortable making these checks or if they don’t solve the drainage problem, call in the pros.

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